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Old 08-19-2017, 10:37 AM   #1
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Starfinder thoughts

I recently received my pre-ordered copy of Paizo's Starfinder and have finished (more or less) my first pass. I thought I might share my observations and provide a place for others to do the same.

I am also bearing in mind Mr Hackard's sticky note about game system flamage and am trying to run everything I am writing through the "mild-mannered" filter. There were some .... problematic decisions made IMHO during this game's creation.

First the obvious, this is a SF/Space Opera game system based on Paizo's Pathfinder RPG, itself a semi-major revision of the D&D 3.5 SRD. It features both ultra-tech and magic used side by side and blended.

However, it might not look that much like a closely related version of Pathfinder. Probably less so than the D20 Star Wars compared to 3.5.

There are a number of major rules changes. For example Starfinder characters have both Hit Pts and "Stamina Pts" With the first being sort of what you're used to and Stamina being like HP (and taken from first) but refreshing after a 10 minute rest (sort of 5e like).

Neither is rolled and unlike the D20 SW (and other systems)both increase by about the same amount every level. HP aren't really much harder to recover than in regular PRPG either.

There are also "Resolve Pts" which are a limited/special resource sort of thing and I'm not quite sure what I think of them yet.

My major issues may have to do with how Starfinder decided to address the "level" problem seen in some class-and-level SF games. It has decided to address these issues by embracing the level mechanic with a deep and fervid passion.

The main place this might be seen be seen is the Equipment section. IMHO equipment sections are extremely important for all SF games and Starfinder's novel contribution to these is to give all equipment a level of its' own.

This restricts which equipment PCs will be able to buy. Merchants will not sell you a piece of equipment more than 1 level higher than your own in most locations or 2 levels in a major "city".

I have not seen where your PCs level is tattooed on his forehead or what causes his money to become unpersuasive in some situations but apparently this is so. I absolutely do not have an adequate supply of handwavium to explain this to any group I would be running for.

A second level-based issue I have is the way gear has been "leveled". That is to say even mundane gear has been given stats such that 20th level PCs will be buying vastly more expensive gear than 1st level types but also vastly more capable. This will be in rough proportions to how magic items advance in both areas. I think laser pistols go from 1D4 to 8D4 and 350 credits to 245,200 credits. Yeah, I don't know why they didn't round off the 200. There must be a formula somewhere.

There is also an issue here that low level gear that PCs could start out with is usually not very good at all. I look at that 1D4 laser pistol and wonder "why doesn't a 1st level PC through knives instead?". Then after looking I find that apparently knives can not be thrown in Starfinder.

A "starknife" (think Xena's chakram with dagger blades welded on to it) can be thrown (if not carried safely). Shurikens can be thrown too but they require the Exotic Weapon Profiency Feat (no, starknives don't). So do bows. Ah, spears can still be thrown and aren't exotic. I'm starting to try and think of reasons why a 1st level PC would not go around with a quiver of spears on his back (no, no such thing as a javelin).

The second major "money" issue" is that starships can not be bought for money. Or sold for it either. At all, I have seen no credit-based prices even for captured ships.

starships are built with Build Pts and the PC group receives a set amount of these based on the Average Party Level. Yes, you receive a new amount of those every time the group advances. No, large parties do not receive more though they don't pay more for more crew cabins either.

Eh, I'll stop now for awhile. there's a good bit more that could be discussed and it isn't all bad but I tire right now.
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Old 08-19-2017, 02:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
starships are built with Build Pts and the PC group receives a set amount of these based on the Average Party Level. Yes, you receive a new amount of those every time the group advances. No, large parties do not receive more though they don't pay more for more crew cabins either.
Considering the contortions that Traveller and GURPS have had to go through in order to let PCs have access to starships, one can understand the idea of wanting to do something different.

And D&D from 3e onwards has seemed to me to be all about providing combat encounters precisely balanced to the party level; if you're space-ifying that, it makes some sense to make starship combat encounters work the same way.

It's not a game for me, but I suspect some people will love it.
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Old 08-19-2017, 08:24 PM   #3
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

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Considering the contortions that Traveller and GURPS have had to go through in order to let PCs have access to starships, one can understand the idea of wanting to do something different.

And D&D from 3e onwards has seemed to me to be all about providing combat encounters precisely balanced to the party level; if you're space-ifying that, it makes some sense to make starship combat encounters work the same way.

It's not a game for me, but I suspect some people will love it.
I don't boggle at some of the starship stuff as badly as I do the equipment issue. I've run some numbers and the number of BP a 1st level group get will build them a minimal ship and that is attractive.

It's just the "How do we upgrade our ship? We go kill Space Goblins!" thing.
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Old 08-20-2017, 02:07 AM   #4
Tom H.
 
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
. . .
I thought I might share my observations and provide a place for others to do the same.
. . .
Hey, thanks for sharing that opinion.

I've been curious about Starfinder, but less so now.

It seems needlessly complicated to have to perform all that adjusting to maintain an artificial power level system.

I'm still amazed at how many RPG's continue to diverge from the promise of universal systems since GURPS' introduction.
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Old 08-20-2017, 09:24 AM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
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Hey, thanks for sharing that opinion.

I've been curious about Starfinder, but less so now.

It seems needlessly complicated to have to perform all that adjusting to maintain an artificial power level system.

I'm still amazed at how many RPG's continue to diverge from the promise of universal systems since GURPS' introduction.
It is an annoyance to those of us who have developed a level of expertise with Pathfinder that there are so many changes from it.

There are some better aspects. Like the classes. That's a strength for PRPG and most of the classes in Starfinder look playable. I'm relatively satisfied so far with the Envoy (a face man or Bard who doesn't sing) and the Operative (a Rogue basically).

The Soldier is probably pretty good and I'm working on absorbing the Mystic (Cleric-like) and the Technomancer (Mage-ish). There's also a Mechanic which looks a little like a Druid for Robots (he's got a robot companion) and the Solarian who's kind of Jedi-like for last. There's already a flame war or two about the Solarian over on the Paizo furum.

I'm being tempted by some thoughts about "I could patch that with some House Rules." but I don't like doing that any more. Ghu help me I ran 1st ed. C&S and Space Opera back in the day so it's possible but I was much younger then.

As an example of an Equipment fix you could ignore "item level" and limit access by price like normal games. Then you knock out the ridiculously inefficient bottom tier 9or two) of weapons so that it actually is easier to kill someone with a laser pistol than with a bow and arrow. Also divide prices accordingly.

It's starting to look like a lot of work but maybe.......
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

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It's just the "How do we upgrade our ship? We go kill Space Goblins!" thing.
That does seem unintuitive, but then class and level systems have things like "How do I get God to allow me to work more impressive holy miracles? I kill orcs and loot their lairs!" That's part of why I found RuneQuest such a revelation, back around 1980 or so.
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Old 08-20-2017, 11:55 AM   #7
sjard
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
<snip>

There is also an issue here that low level gear that PCs could start out with is usually not very good at all. I look at that 1D4 laser pistol and wonder "why doesn't a 1st level PC through knives instead?".
<snip>

Ah, spears can still be thrown and aren't exotic. I'm starting to try and think of reasons why a 1st level PC would not go around with a quiver of spears on his back (no, no such thing as a javelin).
Which type of spear? the basic "archaic" spear from Pathfinder apparently suffers a -5 to damage from any Starfinder armor that is also not considered "archaic".
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Old 08-20-2017, 12:27 PM   #8
Fred Brackin
 
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Which type of spear? the basic "archaic" spear from Pathfinder apparently suffers a -5 to damage from any Starfinder armor that is also not considered "archaic".
Ah, but the Item Level 1 Tactical Spear isn't marked "archaic". Which is probably why it costs 25 credits more than that laser pistol.

I suppose that makes sense from a very abstractly gamist perspective. A 1D6 spear _should_ cost more than a 1D4 laser pistol.

Getting into more advanced stuff I see that one of those Starknives with the Magic "returning" property seems to cost less than either of the above items.
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Old 08-20-2017, 07:56 PM   #9
Jariel
 
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Default Re: Starfinder thoughts

I got a copy from my FLGS and have looked it over. The thing that surprised me the most was the lack of robots. It strikes me as odd that a sci-fi game doesn't have at least a mention of how robots interact with society. This is made more glaring by the fact that we have androids as a playable race and that Pathfinder has stats for robots and how to construct them. Only one class gets something like a robot (the Mechanic) and there is nothing about buying them. The fact that there is not even a mention of them anywhere in the core rule book is really odd.
Maybe we'll get some mention of them in the new monster book, but the lack of robots or a mention of them in society really stands out.
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Old 08-21-2017, 01:34 PM   #10
Fred Brackin
 
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I got a copy from my FLGS and have looked it over. The thing that surprised me the most was the lack of robots. .
I expect they would be called "drones" rather than robots. The Mechanic's Companion is called a Drone and there is a "spy drone" in the Equipment section.
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